The final week of European competition before the upcoming international break produced a handful of surprising results, most notably Manchester United falling to Turkish side İstanbul Baᶊakᶊehir. No one dropped out of the rankings for a second week in a row heading into one of the defining weekends of the season with Bayern Munich squaring off with Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City hosting Liverpool.
Here is this week’s European soccer top 25.
Other teams in consideration: Ajax (NED), Bayer Leverkusen (GER), Roma (ITA), Sassuolo (ITA), Wolves (ENG)
Dropped from rankings: None
25) Everton (ENG)
Last Week: 19 (L 2-1 vs. Newcastle)
It is plainly clear Everton don’t have the depth to withstand multiple key players being unavailable. They were without Séamus Coleman, Lucas Digne and James Rodríguez against Newcastle and trailed by two until Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled one back in stoppage time. The reason the Toffees didn’t drop out of the top 25 is that they’ve shown what they can do at full strength and are still fourth in the Premier League. Digne returns from his suspension and Rodríguez is also set to return on Nov. 7 against Manchester United.
24) Sevilla (ESP)
Last week: 21 (L 2-1 vs. Athletic Bilbao, W 3-2 vs. Krasnodar)
The bad news is that Sevilla are 16th in the La Liga table (with at least one game in hand on most teams) following a third straight defeat. The good news is that they found a way to score twice down a man to complete the comeback against Krasnodar. Youssef En-Nesyri was responsible for the lone tally in the loss and the final two goals in the victory. Qualification to the knockout round of the Champions League is all but assured now. They are simply not scoring enough goals — particularly in La Liga — right now.
23) Lille (FRA)
Last week: 25 (D 1-1 vs. Lyon, W 3-0 vs. AC Milan)
A third consecutive draw can be forgiven when it is followed up by a dominant victory over the only other unbeaten team in Europe’s major leagues involved in European competition. Lille bossed AC Milan around for 90 minutes, which was a sight to behold considering the form the Italian side was in. Yusuf Yazici scored his second hat trick in three Europa League games, giving him two more goals than anyone else in the competition.
22) Manchester United (ENG)
Last week: 14 (L 1-0 vs. Arsenal, L 2-1 vs. İstanbul Baᶊakᶊehir)
Just like that, any reprieve Ole Gunnar Solskjaer received from the string of impressive results is gone. The Red Devils were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached by Arsenal and were never really in the game. Cataclysmic defending, which has become a disturbing trend, then resulted in a shocking loss to the Champions League newcomers. There is just no indication this team is actually getting better or headed in a positive direction because of their staggering inconsistency.
21) Lazio (ITA)
Last week: 23 (W 4-3 vs. Torino, D 1-1 vs. Zenit St. Petersburg)
It was very nearly a third loss in six league contests for Lazio, who needed not one but two goals more than four minutes into stoppage time to come away with a second straight win in Serie A. Felipe Caicedo — who scored the winner against Torino — struck again in the 82nd minute to draw level with Zenit in the Champions League. Those results combined with a win over Juventus on Nov. 8 would strongly suggest their slow start to the season is officially behind them.
20) Real Sociedad (ESP)
Last week: 22 (W 4-1 vs. Celta Vigo, W 1-0 vs. AZ Alkmaar)
Since the beginning of October, Sociedad have won their four La Liga games by a combined score of 14-2. They have scored at least three goals in all of them while never conceding more than once. Five players have multiple league goals and four have multiple league assists. Portu’s strike against Alkmaar means they are one of three teams with six points in their Europa League group. A win over Granada and they are guaranteed to be the La Liga leaders at the international break.
19) Arsenal (ENG)
Last week: 24 (W 1-0 vs. Manchester United, W 4-1 vs. Molde)
With the shutout victory at Old Trafford, Arsenal own the Premier League’s stingiest defense, conceding exactly once per game. Of all the surprising things to happen this season, few are more unexpected than that. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang getting on the scoresheet in league play for the first time since the Gunnars’ season-opening win over Fulham was an added bonus. Molde players actually scored the first three goals in their meeting with Arsenal. It just so happened two of them ended up in their own net.
18) Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER)
Last week: 20 (W 1-0 vs. Leipzig, W 6-0 vs. Shakhtar Donetsk)
There is a real argument nobody in Europe had a better week than Marco Rose’s team. Hannes Wolf netted the winner to take down the Bundesliga leaders, moving Gladbach up to fifth in the process. Then they put four past Shakhtar in the first half to jump the Ukranians and go top of their Champions League group. Don’t forget they also had control against Real Madrid until the final moments last week as well. There is a lot to like about the way Gladbach are playing right now.
17) Leicester City (ENG)
Last week: 18 (W 4-1 vs. Leeds United, W 4-0 vs. Sporting Braga)
Leicester were 2-0 up in 21 minutes at Elland Road, lucky to still be winning midway through the second half and had a three-goal cushion once Youri Tielemans converted a penalty kick at the beginning of stoppage time. Jamie Vardy assisted on the first and scored the third as he gets closer to full fitness. Kelechi Iheanacho started in his place against Braga and directly contributed to the Foxes’ first three goals, netting two of them himself. If Leicester beat Wolves and Liverpool fail to defeat Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers’ team will be winning the Premier League.
16) RB Leipzig (GER)
Last week: 16 (L 1-0 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach, W 2-1 vs. PSG)
A quarter of an hour into the PSG match, it looked as though Leipzig were going to be on a three-game losing streak after going unbeaten in their first seven contests. They ultimately recovered and played much better in the second half, putting themselves in position to get out of what is widely considered to be the toughest Champions League group. However, the loss to Gladbach means they are looking up at both Bayern and Dortmund in the Bundesliga. The situation could be much worse after facing two really good opponents though.
15) Tottenham (ENG)
Last week: 17 (W 2-1 vs. Brighton, W 3-1 vs. Ludogorets)
Gareth Bale picked an ideal moment to score his first goal since returning to Spurs as it put Tottenham ahead for good after Tariq Lamptey’s controversial equalizer. The victory moved them up to third in the Premier League, two points behind Liverpool. José Mourinhio’s team also made sure to avoid another poor outing in the Europa League behind a goal and an assist from Harry Kane. They have not lost in league play since their first game of the season.
14) Atlético Madrid (ESP)
Last week: 15 (W 3-1 vs. Osasuna, D 1-1 vs. Lokomotiv Moscow)
João Felix kept up his fine form in Atléti’s third consecutive La Liga victory and would’ve had a hat trick were it not for a missed penalty kick. They currently sit in fourth place but lead the league in points per game at 2.33. The draw with Lokomotiv is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Atléti are still second in their group behind Bayern, exactly where they’re supposed to be.
13) Barcelona (ESP)
Last week: 11 (D 1-1 vs. Alavés, W 2-1 vs. Dynamo Kyiv)
Barcelona were ecstatic to welcome Marc-André ter Stegen back in net, especially following Neto’s miscue in the draw with Alavés. Antoine Griezmann pulled one back immediately after Barcelona went up a man early in the second half but that’s all they would get. Ter Stegen’s outstanding performance prevented what would have been an embarrassing draw with a Kyiv team missing 13 players due to COVID-19. Lionel Messi is still without a goal from open play this season.
12) Juventus (ITA)
Last week: 13 (W 4-1 vs. Spezia Calcio, W 4-1 vs. Ferencvárosi)
Cristiano Ronaldo’s return from isolation was a timely one for Juventus. He entered a tie game in the 56th minute and had put his team ahead by the 59th. An Adrien Rabiot goal and Ronaldo penalty kick later, it was 4-1. Álavaro Morata carried the load in the Champions League, scoring in the seventh and 60th minutes. It was not a particularly convincing set of three-goal victories, but Andrea Pirlo will take wins in whatever form they come in with some of the disappointing draws they’ve had.
11) Atalanta (ITA)
Last week: 8 (W 2-1 vs. Crotone, L 5-0 vs. Liverpool)
Two first-half goals from Luis Muriel prevented a disastrous loss to the lone winless team in Serie A and snapped a two-game league losing streak. Atalanta now sit fourth in the table, four points behind AC Milan. They will always be susceptible to offensive explosions from their opponents because of the way they play, but giving up five to a Liverpool team that was nowhere near full strength on the back of some poor results is concerning. Their final game before the international break is a meeting with Inter Milan in Bergamo on Nov. 8.
10) AC Milan (ITA)
Last week: 10 (W 2-1 vs. Udinese, L 3-0 vs. Lille)
Zlatan Ibrahimović defied Father Time once again by producing a game-winning bicycle kick plus an assist to keep AC Milan at the top of the Serie A table. Even he could not prevent their 24-game unbeaten run dating back to last season from finally coming to an end though. They are still second in their Europa League group, so the loss was rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The question is whether it was an outlier or an indication of what is to come.
9) Inter Milan (ITA)
Last week: 5 (D 2-2 vs. Parma, L 3-2 vs. Real Madrid)
It took stoppage time dramatics from Ivan Perišić to rescue a point against 16th place Parma and Inter clearly missed the services of Romelu Lukaku up front. The Belgian was also unavailable for the trip to Madrid, which got off to a horrendous start when Achraf Hakimi gifted Karim Benzema a goal with an ill-advised back-pass. They had opportunities with the game tied at two but it was the hosts who ultimately found a winner. Inter’s last seven games have resulted in one win, four draws and two defeats.
8) Chelsea (ENG)
Last week: 12 (W 3-0 vs. Burnley, W 3-0 vs. Stade Rennes)
The Blues made easy work of Burnley, holding Sean Dyche’s team without a shot on target. Hakim Ziyech scored his first Premier League goal in his first Premier League start and assisted on Timo Werner’s goal as well. Werner slotted home two penalties in the first half of the other contest as Edouard Mendy shut out his former team. Midfielder Kai Havertz is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus prior to the Rennes game.
7) Real Madrid (ESP)
Last week: 9 (W 4-1 vs. Huesca, W 3-2 vs. Inter Milan)
Eden Hazard marked his first league appearance with an absolute screamer in Los Blancos’ comfortable win following a pressure-filled week. Sergio Ramos put them ahead 2-0 against Inter with his 100th career goal for the club but a drop-off in intensity let the Italians back into the game. The bench came to the rescue, with one substitute (Vinícius) setting up another (Rodrygo) to retake the lead in the 80th minute. There is no overstating how important those three points were at the halfway point of the group stage.
6) Napoli (ITA)
Last week: 6 (L 2-0 vs. Sassuolo, W 2-1 vs. Rijeka)
Napoli fired 22 shots at Sassuolo’s goal and generated 1.2 more expected goals than the visitors and came away empty-handed. Manuel Locatelli’s penalty kick was the lone tally in the game until a second was added late in stoppage time. They recovered from conceding early on in the Europa League to move into second place in their group. One defeat that was a statistical abnormality to the team currently second in Serie A is not anything to worry about.
5) Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Last week: 7 (W 2-0 vs. Arminia Bielefeld, W 3-0 vs. Club Brugge)
It was a Mats Hummels brace that propelled Dortmund to a fourth consecutive league win, giving the center back as many Bundesliga goals in his last two games as he had in the previous three seasons combined. Erling Braut Håland scored a brace of his own against Brugge, leaving him with 14 goals in 11 career Champions League games. A victory over Bayern on Nov. 7 would put them at the top of the Bundesliga and their Champions League group at the international break.
4) Manchester City (ENG)
Last week: 4 (W 1-0 vs. Sheffield United, W 3-0 vs. Olympiacos)
Two more clean sheets made it three consecutive shutout victories for Pep Guardiola’s team and it was Kyle Walker’s strike from distance that made the difference at Bramall Lane. It was more convincing in the Champions League, as Ferrán Torres scored for a third successive game in the group stage. Gabriel Jesus returned and added a second goal in his first action since Sept. 21. A loss to Liverpool on Nov. 8 would put the Cityzens’ hopes of a third Premier League title in four seasons in serious jeopardy.
3) Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Last week: 2 (W 3-0 vs. Nantes, L 2-1 vs. RB Leipzig)
PSG have now won seven straight Ligue 1 matches and four in a row by at least three goals. It took nine games, but they have first place to themselves for the first time this season, meaning the title race is effectively over barring something miraculous. Thomas Tuchel’s men traveled to Germany without Neymar and Kylian Mbappé and dominated the opening 15 minutes. Ángel Di María missed a penalty and Emil Forsberg converted one that ended up being decisive. Idrissa Gana Gueye and Presnel Kimpembe were both sent off, which is not what Tuchel needed when his team’s Champions League existence is hanging in the balance.
2) Liverpool (ENG)
Last week: 3 (W 2-1 vs. West Ham, W 5-0 vs. Atalanta)
Liverpool found themselves down early once again, and once again rallied to take all three points and stay at the top of the Premier League with a win over the Hammers. It was Diogo Jota who made the difference, scoring his second game-winner in as many league contests. His hat trick in the thrashing of Atalanta gave him six goals in his last four games. Slowly but surely, the Reds are getting healthier and looking more like the team that ran away with the Premier League last season.
1) Bayern Munich (GER)
Last week: 1 (W 2-1 vs. Köln, W 6-2 vs. Red Bull Salzburg)
The Bavarians came out on the right side of a tight affair with winless Köln thanks to first-half goals from Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry. The xG totals were dead even at 1.0 apiece, but the hosts weren’t able to get on the scoresheet until the 82nd minute. Salzburg drew level in the 66th minute to put Bayern’s 13-game Champions League winning streak in jeopardy. The European champions then scored in the 79th, 83rd, 88th and 92 minutes to put the game out of reach. Leipzig’s loss puts them at the top of the Bundesliga table heading into their meeting with Dortmund on Nov. 7.
Photo by Marco Verch / Flickr